For Cunard’s 175th Birthday, 14 Vintage Shots Confirming the Glamour of Cruising
Cunard, the heritage British cruise line, has been celebrating a major milestone: 175 years of sailing across the Atlantic—all in the height of style and sophistication. In the 19th century, the company, which was founded by Sir Samuel Cunard, began by ferrying passengers and cargo between the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, Cunard, which is owned by Carnival Corporation, has three beautiful ships—Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria—and calls on ports across the globe.
Some fun stats for history junkies: On February 5, 1840, Cunard’s first ship, Britannia, set sail on a transatlantic voyage from Southampton, England, carrying 115 first-class passengers, 86 crew, 600 tons of coal, chickens, and loads of mail. Just two years later, they were carrying famous folks like Charles Dickens, who sailed with his wife to America. On March 3, 1870, the Abyssinia was launched—and this was the first Cunard ship to be outfitted with bathrooms. In 1874, there were some other major firsts at sea: the first library, the first smoking room, and the first lounge for women, all introduced on Bothnia. During World War II, the Queen Mary actually served as a troop ship.
Over the decades, the line has drawn stars and royalty to its decks. Here, dug up from the Cunard archives, are vintage shots of passengers on various ships.
Hey, it’s always a treat to sail first class. Here, diners mingle in their formal wear on the Queen Elizabeth, which sailed from 1938-1968. Today, travelers can still bring their tuxes and formal dresses, should they wish.
Cocktail hour, anyone? Couples enjoy their evening spirits on board the Caronia, which sailed from 1947-1967.
A Cunard steward, wearing his summer whites, serves passengers pastries as they lounge on deck. Of course, today’s passengers might be wearing a little less (bathing suits, anyone?)
Today, cruise ships offer waterslides, robot bartenders, and musicals. Back in the 1920s, it was fencing! Two female passengers battle it out on the Berengaria in 1923.
Elizabeth Taylor was a frequent guest on Cunard’s transatlantic and Mediterranean cruises, and is seen here on the Queen Mary in 1950.
Liz Taylor with her poodle.
Bing Crosby, another regular of the Queen Mary.
Bob Hope would often practice his golf drives from the upper decks of the Queen Mary.
Passengers before dinner in the cabin lounge, on the Aurania III (1924-1939).
A couple settles in to their cabin on the Queen Mary (1936-1967), and is attended to by a female staff member.
Debbie Reynolds sailed with the line.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis never sailed on the Queen Mary but she visited the ship with Robert Kennedy on March 17, 1965 to wish bon voyage to former British Ambassador Lord Harlech, who was close friends with President Kennedy.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor and The Duchess of Windsor sailed several times on Queen Elizabeth from 1946 to 1953. They would bring up to 150 monogrammed Louis Vuitton pieces of luggage on board.
During World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill crossed the Atlantic four times on the Queen Mary: May 1943, August 1943, and twice in September 1944.